Thursday, November 20, 2014


David Malo gives us the following lesson on Maika, or Ulu Maika.

When people wanted the excitement of betting they hunted up the men who were powerful in rolling the maika stone, and every man made his bet on the one whom he thought to be the strongest player.

The experts also studied the physique of the players, as well as the signs and omens, after which the betting went too ruinous lengths.

Now the maika was a stone which was fashioned after the shape of a wheel, thick at the centre and narrow at the circumference - a biconvex disc. It was also called an ulu, this thing with which the game of maika was played.

The ulu-maika (by which name the stone disc, or the game itself was called) was made from many varieties of stone, and they were accordingly designed after the variety of stone from which they were made.

The game of maika was played on a road-way, or kahua, made especially for the purpose. When all had made their bets the maika-players came to the maika-course.

The ulu which the first man hurled was said to be his kumu, mua, ie, his first basis or pledge; in the same way the ulu which the second player hurled, or bowled, was called his kumu.

If the second player outdid the first player's shot he scored.  If they both went the same distance it was a dead heat.  But if the second player did not succeed in out-doing the first man's play the score was given to the first player.

(It is not clear whether sometimes the play was not to drive the ulu between two stakes set up at a distance, whether the ulu-maika of the first player was removed from the course as soon as it came to a standstill, by what means the point reached by the ulu was marked, if it was removed from the course in order to clear the track for the next player.)

(There was no doubt a great diversity of practice as to these points on the different islands, and even in the different parts of the same island.)  (Malo)

Ellis also notes that at times, “the only contention is, who can bowl it farthest along the tahua, or floor.”   However, he also notes the use of stakes in ‘maita’ or ‘uru maita.’

Two sticks are stuck in the ground only a few inches apart, at a distance of thirty or forty yards, and between these, but without striking either, the parties at play strive to throw their stone.

The uru, which they use instead of a dart, is a circular stone, admirably adapted for rolling, being of compact lava, or a white alluvial rock, (found principally in the island of Oʻahu,) about three or four inches in diameter, an inch in thickness around the edge, but thicker in the centre.”  (Ellis, 1831)

Alexander confirms the two approaches to the game, “A favorite amusement, the maika, consisted in bowling a circular, highly-polished stone disk called an ulu, three or four inches in diameter and an inch or more thick, swelling with a slight convexity from the edges to the center.”

“A kahua or level track about three feet wide and half a mile in length was made smooth and hard. In this track two short sticks were fixed in the ground only a few inches apart, at a distance of thirty or forty yards.”

“The game consisted in either sending the stone between these sticks, or in seeing which party could bowl it farthest. It is said that one of their best players would bowl the stone upwards of a hundred rods.”

Jarves simply notes Maika is “a species of bowling, in which a circular stone, highly polished, with flat sides is used.”  McGregor notes the ‘ulu maika or stone bowling disc date to the Developmental Period (600 to 1100.)

Fornander notes, “we found at the bottom two Maika stones of extraordinary size, which were said to be the particular Ulu which Pāʻao brought with him from foreign lands, and with which he amused himself when playing the favourite game of Maika.”

“These stones were as large as the crown of a common-sized hat, two inches thick at the edges and a little thicker in the middle. They were of a white, fine-grained, hard stone, that may or may not be of Hawaiian quarrying: I am not geologist enough to say.”

“I have seen many Maika stones from ancient times, of from two to three inches diameter, of a whitish straw colour, but never seen or heard of any approaching these of Pāʻao in size or whiteness. Though they are called the Maika stones of Pāʻao – ‘Na Ulu a Pāʻao’ - yet their enormous size would apparently forbid their employment for that purpose.”  (Fornander)

“One of the finest ‘Ulu-maika’ places on the islands was the one belonging to Kou (what is now downtown Honolulu.) This was a hard, smooth track about twelve feet wide extending from the corner on Merchant and Fort Streets now occupied by the Bank of Hawaii along the sea ward side of Merchant Street to the place beyond Nuʻuanu Avenue known as the old iron works at Ula-ko-heo.”

“It was used by the highest chiefs for rolling the stone disc known as "the maika stone." Kamehameha I is recorded as having used this maika track.”  (Westervelt)

The image shows an ulu maika (NationalMuseumAustralia.)  In addition, I have added some other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pālolo Hill

“And they gathered their friends together and journeyed up into the hill country, and when they did not return others followed, saying unto them - 'Why, therefore, do ye choose to dwell in the hill country?'“

“And they answered, 'For it is here we obtain the freedom of the air, with all its freshness and purity; it is here we get strength for the mind and body, and it is here we enjoy the breath of life.'“  (Evening Bulletin, October 21, 1911)

So went the marketing for the Pālolo Hill development - the Homeland of Health - above Kaimuki.

The announcement of the project a year before carried the same positive enthusiasm, “Pālolo Hill may not only be destined to blossom as the rose, but it will be dotted with a thousand homes, the place of residence of delighted sojourners who seek the many incomparable advantages offered by climatic conditions only to be found in the Paradise of the Pacific, but Honolulu in particular.”

“The Kaimuki Land Company has completed all arrangements for setting a large force of men at work in the grading of fifty foot streets and plotting some twelve hundred lots in this sightly tract of land located at the terminus of the Hotel street and Waiʻalae car-line.”

“Pālolo Hill, commanding a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean, the frowning slopes of Diamond Head, and the bald prominence of Koko Head, will be transformed into a place of much activity before the close of the old year.”

“The plans as outlined by the land company are elaborate in the extreme. The first of the week will find teams and graders at work on the roads. ... (The central) avenue will serve as a feeder for the curved and winding highways that weave their way in and around the brow of this eminence.”

“It is claimed, that there is not a lot in the entire twelve hundred that is of lower elevation than three hundred feet. The highest elevation recorded in the tract is eleven hundred feet. A visit to the tract, where grading operations have already begun, would show that there is no portion of the district that has an unobstructed marine view. (Evening Bulletin, December 9, 1910)

Some background ... William Lunalilo ended up with most of the area known as Kaimuki through the Great Māhele (1848.)  Lunalilo was born on January 31, 1835 to High Chiefess Miriam ‘Auhea Kekauluohi (Kuhina Nui, or Premier of the Hawaiian Kingdom and niece of Kamehameha I) and High Chief Charles Kanaʻina.

When Kamehameha V died on December 11, 1872 he had not named a successor to the throne.   The Islands' first election to determine who would be King was held - Lunalilo defeated Prince David Kalākaua (the Legislature met, as required by law, in the Courthouse to cast their official ballots of election of the next King.  Lunalilo received all thirty-seven votes.)

Lunalilo was the first of the large landholding aliʻi to create a charitable trust for the benefit of his people.  He was to reign for one year and twenty-five days, succumbing to pulmonary tuberculosis on February 3, 1874.

His estate included large landholdings on the five major islands, consisting of 33-ahupuaʻa, nine ʻili and more than a dozen home lots. His will, written in 1871, established a perpetual trust under the administration of three trustees to be appointed by the justices of the Hawaiian Supreme Court.

His will instructed his trustees to build a home to accommodate the poor, destitute and infirm people of Hawaiian (aboriginal) blood or extraction, with preference given to older people. The will instructed the Trustees to sell all of the estate’s land to build and maintain the home.    (Supreme Court Records)

In 1884, the Kaimuki land was auctioned off. The rocky terrain held little value to its new owner, Dr. Trousseau, who was a “physician to the court of King Kalākaua”.  Trousseau ended up giving his land to Senator Paul Isenberg.  Theodore Lansing and AV Gear later bought the Kaimuki land (in 1898.) (Lee)

Gear, Lansing & Co, one of Honolulu's first real estate firms, envisioned Kaimuki becoming a high-class residential area, but was stymied by buyers' lack of interest.

Later Charlie Stanton, FE Steere and Frank E Thompson formed the Kaimuki Land Company and took over the Kaimuki tracts. Eventually, they turned it over to Waterhouse Trust Company who sold the land for eight cents a square foot and nine cents for corner lots. (Takasaki)

(There appear to be some interchangeable names of the development  entity: Kaimuki Land Company, Pālolo Land Company and Pālolo Land and Improvement Co.)

The Pālolo Land Company is an organization composed of several gentlemen who own upper Pālolo Valley and the scenic portion of Pālolo Hill it overlooks Kaimuki, and from Upper Pālolo Hill half of Oʻahu Island may be seen. Splendid roads have recently been constructed.  (Mid-Pacific Magazine)

Not familiar with the Pālolo Hill subdivision name?

It’s not clear if any official name change took place, but we now typically refer to this area as “Wilhelmina Rise” and Maunalani Heights.  (Some incorrectly say it was developed by Matson in the 1930s; the above notes it was built 20-years before and by local real estate developers.)

However, “The streets are ... named after the steamers that make regular calls at the port of Honolulu.  Wilhelmina Rise is a broad and absolutely straight thoroughfare extending for a mile and a half up the slope of Pālolo Hill.”  (Evening Bulletin, December 9, 1910)

Up Pālolo Hill (Wilhelmina Rise,) you'll find Lurline, Matsonia, Maunalani, Mana, Sierra, Wilhelmina, and Claudine, Matson liners and freighters.

The image shows a drawing of the new Pālolo Hill development (Mid-Pacific Magazine, 1912.)    In addition, I have included more related images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The lighthouse is reached, no drop! the outer buoy, no stop!

This is a story about Joseph Lawrence Van Tassell.  But before we get to Van Tassell, let’s look at a predecessor and his attempts at the first successful aeronautical event in Hawaiʻi.  At the time, the technology was hot air balloons.

Emil L Melville had advertised a balloon show where he would hang from a trapeze in his 86-foot balloon.  For Melville, third time was the charm.

The headline on the first attempt tells the story, “An Immense Audience - No Ascension.”  It goes on to note, “The crowd continued to surge into the (Kapiʻolani) Park until about the time set for the ascension when there were from 3,000 to 4,000 persons within the enclosure and perhaps 2,000 more in the surrounding grounds.”

“Promptly at the advertised hour 2 o’clock (March 2, 1889) Prof Melville arose from a nap with which he was refreshing himself in a room near the grand stand and dressed himself in a gay suit of tights.”  (Hawaiian Gazette, March 5, 1889)

“What the process is actually remains a professional secret … the canvas in a few moments began to flutter and fill then bulge out into something like rotund shape. … Matters were in this struggling stage at 5:45 o’clock … a wreath of smoke curling up from the upper slope of the cloth … Another burst … Many of the helpers ran off panic-stricken … The next scene was a grand and speedy dispersion (of the crowd.”)   (Hawaiian Gazette, March 5, 1889)

A week later, the paper noted, “’There could not have been a better day,’ (March 11, 1889) was the universal remark, suggested by the very slight stir in the air and such motion as there was being off the sea. The balloon filled up beautifully - was in fact every moment looking more like an article of that name until it had about three fourths of its capacity-charged with concentrated caloric and smoke.”

“The furnace roars once and again and next thing the aeronaut thunders out ‘All let go!’ … and away the monster creeps laterally … off she goes and then up, only the spectators in the inner rings observing the gallant Professor Melville dragging headforemost to the trapeze - he had no time to fasten on the parachute.”

“Up through the wicked spikes of the young algeroba (kiawe) thicket the aeronaut was dragged … Now the balloon is fast sinking with the man’s weight. It disappears behind the bush and almost immediately soars majestically aloft but there is no man dangling from the trapeze.”  (Hawaiian Gazette, March 12, 1889)

Finally, on April 6, 1889, “ … Prof Emil Melville with the assistance of sailors from HBMS Cormorant was inflating his balloon, the one used in the two previous attempts to fly skyward.  About half-past 2 o’clock … the balloon was up.  Sure enough there it was sailing gracefully over the town at an elevation of two or three thousand feet.”

“… a little steady gazing was rewarded by the vision of a streak of red the aeronauts athletic costume … going through movements on the bar which made the balloon sag and sway at intervals.”

“At a point nearly over Palace Square the balloon was noticed to be descending which caused the rush of hundreds to the water front to see the finish of the aerial voyage.  … The aeronaut let go when near the surface of the water dropping in about four or five feet depth on the reef inside the breakers off Kakaʻako. His balloon in a few seconds took the water having careened on its side under a gust of wind.”  (Hawaiian Gazette, April 9, 1889)

Joseph Lawrence Van Tassell was another balloonist who came to Hawaiʻi.

Some credit him with the first flight in the islands, but it is clear from the above, that Melville made it on his third try (although unceremoniously with a dunking in the water.)

Like Melville, Van Tassell staged a flight from Kapiʻolani Park, collecting admission fees from spectators.  On November 2, 1889, “The attendance at Kapiʻolani Park … was not so large as it ought to have been. About five hundred persons were in the enclosure, but there was a much larger number outside. Many people witnessed the ascension from the top of Punchbowl and other commanding positions”.

“… It progressed so rapidly and in such a thorough manner that at four o’clock ‘let go’ was heard and the balloon ascended gracefully into the air. (At the appropriate time,) “the aeronaut partly opened the parachute and a few seconds later parted from the balloon, coming down in a very graceful manner”.  (Daily Bulletin, November 4, 1889)

What’s it like?  “We go up in a balloon which holds 75,000 cubic feet of gas and lifts 2,800 pounds. … The parachute is fastened to the side of the balloon with a rope. … Underneath the parachute is an ordinary trapeze. When we get ready to jump, we swing out of the balloon throwing one leg out of the trapeze under the parachute.”

“Then we cut it loose at the same instant pulling a cord that collapses the balloon. We fall the first two hundred feet with terrible rapidity and then comes the most dangerous part of the jump, next to landing, for in falling the two hundred feet the parachute opens and it brings up with a jerk that almost hurls you off the bar.”  (Hawaiian Gazette, November 26, 1889)

Then, a fateful event.

Van Tassell promised a special show to honor King Kalākaua on his 53rd birthday; he had no trouble selling tickets.  He promised to ascend from the crater Punchbowl then parachute to a landing in the palace grounds.  (hawaii-gov)

“The inflation commenced about 2 o’clock and the big bag was quickly filled. … At 2:19 pm the aeronaut declared himself ready and with a pleasant wave of the hand to a few friends he straddled the iron bar of the parachute and grasping the ropes gave the order ‘let go’ and started on his ride”.

“The point of starting was so well sheltered from the brisk trade wind that was blowing that the balloon had an excellent opportunity to rise upward which it did to a height estimated at between five and six thousand feet. “

“The balloon now caught the force of the trade wind and commenced to set slowly towards the south-west, passing over the Palace at which point it had been arranged by the aeronaut he would cut loose and begin his descent.”

“Slowly the balloon passed to a wind directly over the corner of Richard and King streets where it was discernable, now at 2:22 o’clock after being up three minutes, that Professor Joe had at last cut loose.”

“The parachute however instead of coming, as was hoped, directly earthwards seemed on the contrary to have been caught by the trade wind and lifted upward, and also drifted rapidly towards the sea.”

“And now commenced a race between the balloon and parachute to seaward, the parachute with its living freight for the first few minutes appearing to be equal in height with the balloon.”

“The lighthouse is reached, no drop! the outer buoy, no stop! On goes the parachute, on goes the balloon. Now appears the danger, there is no provision for assistance, the parachute is now two miles from shore and still receding. At last he drops …”

“From 3 o'clock until 5:30 search, diligent and careful was made, the sail-boats cruising in different courses, Minister Thurston in the "Hawaii" going well in shore and the tug making circles that covered all probable points.”

“No trace of man or parachute could be found ….”  (The balloon was later recovered,) “Prof. Joseph Lawrence Van Tassell had made his last leap, had jumped into eternity and had added his name to the list of those daring spirits of his profession who had joined the great majority.”  (Hawaiian Gazette, November 19, 1889)

On November 18, 1889, Van Tassell became Hawaiʻi’s first air fatality.  The image shows an advertisement for the November 2, 1889 ascent and jump from a balloon.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Alexander & Baldwin

In 1843, Samuel Thomas Alexander and Henry Perrine Baldwin, sons of early missionaries to Hawaiʻi, met in Lāhainā, Maui. They grew up together, became close friends and went on to develop a sugar-growing partnership.

Alexander was the idea man, more outgoing and adventurous of the two. He had a gift for raising money to support his business projects.

Baldwin was more reserved and considered the “doer” of the partners; he completed the projects conceived by Alexander.

After studying on the Mainland, Alexander returned to Maui and began teaching at Lahainaluna, where he and his students successfully grew sugar cane and bananas.

Word of the venture spread to the owner of Waiheʻe sugar plantation near Wailuku, and Alexander was offered the manager’s position.

Alexander hired Baldwin as his assistant, who at the time was helping his brother raise sugar cane in Lāhainā. This was the beginning of a lifelong working partnership.

In 1869, the young men – Alexander was 33, Baldwin, 27 – purchased 12-acres of land in Makawao and the following year an additional 559-acres.  That same year, the partners planted sugar cane on their land marking the birth of what would become Alexander & Baldwin (A&B.)

In 1871, they saw the need for a reliable source of water, and to this end undertook the construction of the Hāmākua ditch in 1876.

Although not an engineer, Alexander devised an irrigation system that would bring water from the windward slopes of Haleakala to Central Maui to irrigate 3,000 acres of cane – their own and neighboring plantations.

Baldwin oversaw the Hāmākua Ditch project, known today as East Maui Irrigation Company (the oldest subsidiary of A&B,) and within two years the ditch was complete.

The completed Old Hāmākua Ditch was 17-miles long and had a capacity of 60-million gallons per day.  A second ditch was added, the Spreckels Ditch; when completed, it was 30-miles long with a capacity of 60-million gallons per day.

Before World War I, the New Hāmākua, Koʻolau, New Haiku and Kauhikoa ditches were built. A total of ten ditches were constructed between 1879 and 1923.

Over the next thirty years, the two men became agents for nearly a dozen plantations and expanded their plantation interests by acquiring Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company and Kahului Railroad.

In 1883, Alexander and Baldwin formalized their partnership by incorporating their sugar business as the Paia Plantation also known at various times as Samuel T Alexander & Co, Haleakala Sugar Co and Alexander & Baldwin Plantation.

By spring of 1900, A&B had outgrown its partnership organization and plans were made to incorporate the company, allowing the company to increase capitalization and facilitate expansion.

The Articles of Association and affidavit of the president, secretary and treasurer were filed June 30, 1900 with the treasurer of the Territory of Hawaiʻi. Alexander & Baldwin, Limited became a Hawaiʻi corporation, with its principal office in Honolulu and with a branch office in San Francisco.

Shortly after, in 1904, Samuel Alexander passed away on one of his adventures. While hiking with his daughter to the edge of Victoria Falls, Africa, he was struck by a boulder. Seven years later, Baldwin passed away at the age of 68 from failing health.

After the passing of the founders, Alexander & Baldwin continued to expand their sugar operations by acquiring additional land, developing essential water resources and investing in shipping (Matson) to bring supplies to Hawaii and transport sugar to the US Mainland markets.

A&B was one of Hawaiʻi’s five major companies (that emerged to providing operations, marketing, supplies and other services for the plantations and eventually came to own and manage most of them.)  They became known as the Big Five.

Hawaiʻi's Big Five were: C Brewer (1826;) A Theo H Davies (1845;) Amfac - starting as Hackfeld & Company (1849;) Castle & Cooke (1851) and Alexander & Baldwin (1870.)

What started off as partnership between two young men, with the purchase of 12 acres in Maui, has grown into a corporation with $2.3 billion in assets, including over 88,000 acres of land.

(In 2012, A&B separated into two stand-alone, publicly traded companies – A&B, focusing on land and agribusiness and Matson, on transportation.)

A&B is the State's fourth largest private landowner, and is one of the State's most active real estate investors.  It’s portfolio includes a diversity of projects throughout Hawaiʻi, and a commercial property portfolio comprising nearly 8-million square feet of leasable space in Hawaiʻi and on the US Mainland.

It is also the owner and operator of the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar plantation, the state’s largest farm, with 36,000 acres under cultivation and Hawaiʻi’s sole producer of raw and specialty sugar.  (Information here is from Alexander & Baldwin.)

The image shows the sugar harvesting in the early years.  (A&B)  In addition, I have added some other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

House of Nobles

The first Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi adopted in 1840 replaced the informal council of chiefs with a formal legislature of the Hawaiian Kingdom and cabinet.

The Hawaiian government was a constitutional monarchy comprised of three branches: Executive (Monarch and Cabinet), Legislative (House of Nobles and Representatives) and Judicial (Supreme Court and lower courts).

The King also had a private council - the Privy Council is distinguished from a modern cabinet of the executive; in the monarchical tradition, a Privy Council lent legislative powers to the monarch and served judicial functions.

While the first official record of the Privy Council began in July 1845, the body existed previously as the council of chiefs (the House of Nobles similarly comprised of the members of the council of chiefs.)

Under the leadership of King Kamehameha III, the Privy Council was authorized by the Act to Organize the Executive Ministries on October 29, 1845.  The Kingdom of Hawai`i’s Privy Council was a body comprised of five ministers and the four governors along with other appointed members that served to advise the King.

Kingdom of Hawai‘i Constitution of 1852, Article 49 noted, “There shall continue to be a Council of State for advising the King in the Executive part of the Government, and in directing the affairs of the Kingdom, according to the Constitution and laws of the land, to be called the King's Privy Council of State.”

The Legislative Department of the Kingdom was composed of the House of Nobles and the House of Representatives. The King represented the vested right of the Government class, the House of Nobles were appointed by the King and the House of Representatives were elected by the people.  (puhnawaiola)

The cabinet consisted of a Privy Council (officially formed in 1845) and five powerful government ministers.  Gerrit P Judd was appointed to the most powerful post of Minister of Finance; Lawyer John Ricord was Attorney General; Robert Crichton Wyllie was Minister of Foreign Affairs; William Richards Minister of Public Instruction and Keoni Ana was Minister of the Interior.

Under the 1840 Constitution the Kuhina Nui's (position similar to "Prime Minister" or "Premier") approval was required before the "important business of the Kingdom" could be transacted; the king and the Kuhina Nui had veto power over each other's acts; the Kuhina Nui was to be a special counselor to the king; and laws passed by the legislature had to be approved by both before becoming law. The Kuhina Nui was ex-officio a member of the House of Nobles and of the Supreme Court.  (Gething)

The former council of chiefs became the House of Nobles, roughly modeled on the British House of Lords. Seven elected representatives would be the start of democratic government.

(The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.  It is independent from, and complements the work of, the elected House of Commons – they share responsibility for making laws and checking government action.  Members of the House of Lords are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister.)  (parliament-uk)

The 1840 Hawaiʻi Constitution stated: “House of Nobles. At the present period, these are the persons who shall sit in the government councils, Kamehameha III, Kekāuluohi, Hoapiliwahine, Kuakini, Kekauōnohi, Kahekili, Paki, Konia, Keohokālole, Leleiōhoku, Kekūanāoʻa, Kealiʻiahonui, Kanaʻina, Keoni Ii, Keoni Ana and Haʻalilio.”

“Should any other person be received into the council, it shall be made known by law. These persons shall have part in the councils of the kingdom.”

“No law of the nation shall be passed without their assent. They shall act in the following manner: They shall assemble annually, for the purpose of seeking the welfare of the nation, and establishing laws for the kingdom. Their meetings shall commence in April, at such day and place as the King shall appoint.”

“It shall also be proper for the King to consult with the above persons respecting all the great concerns of the kingdom, in order to promote unanimity and secure the greatest good. They shall moreover transact such other business as the King shall commit to them.”

“They shall still retain their own appropriate lands, whether districts or plantations, or whatever divisions they may be, and they may conduct the business on said lands at their discretion, but not at variance with the laws of the kingdom.”

Members of its companion body, the House of Representatives, were elected by the people, with representatives from each of the major four islands. Proposed laws required majority approval from both the House of Nobles and the House of Representatives, and approval and signature by the King and the Premier.  (Punawaiola)

This body was succeeded by a unicameral legislature in 1864, which also imposed property and literacy requirements for both legislature members and voters; these requirements were repealed in 1874.  (Punawaiola)

That there even was a constitution, plus the basic outline of the government it established, clearly reflected the counsel of the American missionaries. Yet, many of the older Hawaiian traditions remained (ie the concept of the council of chiefs.)  (Gething)

The House of Nobles originally consisted of the king plus five women and ten men (women did not get the right to vote in the US until 1920).  After the overthrow and the subsequent annexation, it was renamed the Senate.

The first meeting of the House of Nobles was on April 1, 1841 in the ‘council house’ at Luaʻehu in Lāhainā.  The image shows Lāhainā at about that time.)

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sugar, the Early Years

Sugar was a canoe crop; the early Polynesian settlers to Hawaiʻi brought sugar cane with them and demonstrated that it could be grown successfully in the islands.

In pre-contact times, sugarcane was not processed as we know sugar today, but was used by chewing the juicy stalks.  Its leaves were used for inside house thatching, or for outside (if pili grass wasn't available.) The flower stalks of sugar cane were used to make a dart, sometimes used during the Makahiki games. (Canoe Crops)

The first written record of sugarcane in Hawaiʻi came from Captain James Cook, at the time he made initial contact with the Islands.  On January 19, 1778, off Kauaʻi, he notes, "We saw no wood, but what was up in the interior part of the island, except a few trees about the villages; near which, also, we could observe several plantations of plantains and sugar-canes."  (Cook)

Cook notes that sugar was cultivated, "The potatoe fields, and spots of sugar-canes, or plantains, in the higher grounds, are planted with the same regularity; and always in some determinate figure; generally as a square or oblong".  (Cook)

It appears Cook was the first outsider to put sugarcane to use.  One of his tools in his fight against scurvy (severe lack of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in your diet) was beer.

On December 7, 1778 he notes, "Having procured a quantity of sugar cane; and having, upon a trial, made but a few days before, found that a strong decoction of it produced a very palatable beer, I ordered some more to be brewed, for our general use."

"A few hops, of which we had some on board, improved it much. It has the taste of new malt beer; and I believe no one will doubt of its being very wholesome. And yet my inconsiderate crew alleged that it was injurious to their health."  (Cook)

While the crew "would (not) even so much as taste it", he "gave orders that no grog should be served ... (he) and the officers, continued to make use of this sugarcane beer, whenever (they) could get materials for brewing it."  (Cook)  Others later made rum from the sugarcane.

But beer and rum were not a typical sugar use; shortly after, the first reported processing of sugar was noted.  “(I)n 1802 sugar was first made at these islands, by a native of China, on the island of Lanai.”

“He came here in one of the vessels trading for sandal wood, and brought a stone mill, and boilers, and after grinding off one small crop and making it into sugar, went back the next year with his fixtures, to China.”  (Torbert; Polynesian, January 31, 1852)

As production grew, the early sugar ventures were either Hawaiian-owned or regulated by Hawaiian rulers.  Stephen W Reynolds, crew on the New Hazard, kept a diary; his March 5, 1811 entry (presumably in Honolulu) notes:

“Sent a boat ashore after water. Went ashore in cutter with captain; saw the King's cane mill and boiler, ship—a small one hauled up of about 175 tons, fort, etc.” (This suggests that King Kamehameha was making sugar in Honolulu in 1811.)  (Cushing)

A friend of the King, Don Francisco de Paula Marin is also credited with early sugar processing.  In Robert Crichton Wyllie manuscripts of Marin's journals, Wyllie noted an entry concerning sugar, "On the 25th of February, 1819, he was engaged in making sugar."  There are eight additional entries that mention sugar or molasses.  (Cushing)

In most instances, the Hawaiian-owned sugar processing was managed by either Chinese sugar boilers or American shopkeepers in rural districts.  (MacLennan)  Although sugar cane had grown in Hawaiʻi for many centuries, its commercial cultivation for the production of sugar did not occur until 1825.

In that year, John Wilkinson and Governor Boki started a plantation in upper Mānoa Valley. Within six months they had seven acres of cane growing, and by the time Wilkinson died, in September 1826, they had actually manufactured some sugar. The sugar mill was later converted into a distillery for rum, prompting Kaʻahumanu to have the cane fields destroyed around 1829.  (Schmitt)

“The first successful sugarcane plantation was started at Kōloa, Kauaʻi in 1835. Its first harvest in 1837 produced 2 tons of raw sugar, which sold for $200. Other pioneers, predominantly from the United States, soon began growing sugarcane on the islands of Hawaii, Maui, and Oahu.”  (HARC)

Shortly thereafter, King Kamehameha III, seeking to encourage commercial cultivation of sugar by native Hawaiians offered the "acre system," giving "out small lots of land, from one to two acres, to individuals for the cultivation of cane."

"When the cane is ripe, the King finds all the apparatus for manufacturing & when manufactured takes the half. Of his half one fifth is regarded as the tax due to the aupuni (government) & the remaining four fifths is his compensation for the manufacture. These cane cultivators are released from all other demands of every description on the part of chiefs."  (Armstrong (1839;) MacLennan)

About this time, the initial signs of commercial sugar are found on Maui, in Wailuku.  In 1840, the King ordered an iron mill from the US, and it was erected by August.  Hung & Co in 1841 advertised the sale of sugar and sugar syrup from its 150-acre plantation in Wailuku. More than likely, this was sugar from the King's Mill.  (MacLennan)

Early plantations were small and didn’t fare too well.  Soon, most would come to realize that “sugar farming and sugar milling were essentially great-scale operations."  (Garvin)

Then, the King sought to expand sugar cultivation and production, as well as expand other agricultural ventures to support commercial agriculture in the Islands.  In a speech to the Legislature in 1847, the King notes:

“I recommend to your most serious consideration, to devise means to promote the agriculture of the islands, and profitable industry among all classes of their inhabitants. It is my wish that my subjects should possess lands upon a secure title; enabling them to live in abundance and comfort, and to bring up their children free from the vices that prevail in the seaports.”

“What my native subjects are greatly in want of, to become farmers, is capital with which to buy cattle, fence in the land and cultivate it properly. I recommend you to consider the best means of inducing foreigners to furnish capital for carrying on agricultural operations, that thus the exports of the country may be increased …”  (King Kamehameha III Speech to the Legislature, April 28, 1847; Archives)

A few things helped kick-start this vision - following finding gold in 1848, the California gold rush stimulated a small boom in commercial agriculture for the Islands - particularly in potatoes and sugar.  However, by the end of the 1850s, the boomlet became a depression (California started to supply its own needs.)

A decade later, the American Civil War virtually shut down Louisiana sugar production during the 1860s.  Hawaiian-grown sugar soon replaced much of this southern sugar through the duration of the conflict.

By the end of the war, over thirty extremely prosperous plantations were in operation and expanded to new levels previously unheard of before the war’s commencement.

Hawaiʻi's industrial plantations began to emerge at this time (1860s;) they were further fueled by the Treaty of Reciprocity - 1875 between the United States and the Kingdom of Hawai‘i eliminated the major trade barrier to Hawai‘i’s closest and major market.

A century after Captain James Cook's arrival in Hawaiʻi, sugar plantations started to dominate the landscape.  Hawai‘i’s economy turned toward sugar in the decades between 1860 and 1880; these twenty years were pivotal in building the plantation system.

The industry came to maturity by the turn of the century; the industry peaked in the 1930s. Hawaiʻi's sugar plantations employed more than 50,000 workers and produced more than 1-million tons of sugar a year; over 254,500-acres were planted in sugar.  (That plummeted to 492,000-tons in 1995; a majority of the plantations closed in the 1990s.)  The image shows sugarcane.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

“The sound of the waves on the beach at Waikiki”

Webley Edwards was born November 11, 1902 in Corvallis, Oregon.  He attended Oregon Agricultural College (OAC – it was later named Oregon State University) where he became the first student manager of campus radio, KOAC.

As an OAC student, Webley “made good grades, was a popular athlete, and became the best ukulele player on campus, in an era when skill with the instrument was considered a sure way to a woman's heart.”  (Corvallis Gazette-Times)

After graduating from OAC in 1927, Webley moved to Hawaiʻi in 1928 to work as a car salesman and play semi-pro football. Fascinated with the local music, in 1935, he arranged for a two-week trial run for a radio show of “authentic” Hawaiian music.

On July 3, 1935, Edwards created and first aired a radio program called “Hawaiʻi Calls” featuring Hawaiian music and entertainment.

The first show reached the West Coast of the continental US through shortwave radio.  Although the program enjoyed a growing popularity on the mainland, Edwards initially had a hard time making ends meet and solicited support from the Hawaiʻi Tourist Bureau.

Hawaiʻi was calling, he seemed to suggest, and to the home-bound listener freezing through an Iowa or Montana winter, making a vow to one day visit the Islands became irresistible.

From about 40,000 visitors annually in the 1930s, the number had grown to 500,000 by the time the show ended its run more than 35 years later.  (Corvallis Gazette-Times)

Except for an apparent break during World War II, the radio program aired continuously since its inception.

Edwards was the first to broadcast news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  In his own words, “the real McCoy. All army, navy and marine personnel report to duty.”  (Corvallis Gazette-Times)

During the war, Edwards worked as a reporter for CBS Radio and landed exclusives including an interview with Colonel Paul W Tibbetts (the pilot of the B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay, who dropped the atomic bomb over Hiroshima.)

He had been chosen by lottery to be the chief announcer for the shipboard ceremony that ended hostilities between the United States and Japan and aboard the USS Missouri reported on the surrender ceremony that brought the conflict to its close.  (Ankeny)

“Attention, peoples of the world! World War II is about to come to its official closing, three years, eight months and 25 days since the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The Japanese delegation has just arrived.”

“Lined up before us are officers and men with high-ranking stars and gold braid. The deck of the Missouri stretches out before us … its great guns pointed skyward to allow for more room …”   (Corvallis Gazette-Times)

From the time of inception until January of 1972, Webley Edwards was Hawaiʻi Calls’ announcer and leading personality.

Each show opened with the sounds of the pounding surf and the enthusiastic bounding voice of Webley Edwards proclaiming “The sound of the waves on the beach at Waikiki.”

Usually that radio program was broadcast to the Mainland at about sundown. The announcer always described the beautiful sunset including the words, “and now the beautiful sun is a ball of fire, sinking, sinking, ever so slowly over the edge of the ocean--there it goes.”    (Green)

The weekly program was typically taped before a live audience at the Moana Hotel in Waikiki.  Periodically, they took the show on the road and broadcast from a neighbor island.

In its heyday, the show was heard on over 600 radio stations in North America and scores of others in Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, South America, Africa and the Far East.  It was also heard on the Voice of Freedom (the predecessor to the Voice of America) and on Armed Forces Radio throughout the world.    (Hula Records)

Throughout the 1950s, Edwards compiled and produced a series of Hawaiian music collections for Capitol Records.  He even wrote songs under a pseudonym, John Kalapana.

In all, Hawaiʻi Calls spanned 40-years, along the way popularizing tunes including “Lovely Hula Hands,” “Beyond the Reef,” “Little Brown Gal” and “The Hawaiian Wedding Song.”

“Sweet Leilani,” which Edwards debuted in 1936, won an Academy Award after Bing Crosby’s powerful, yet gentle, rendition from the movie 'Waikiki Wedding' thrilled people throughout the world.  (Hula Records)

In addition, he helped promote local performers, including Alfred Apaka, George Kainapau, Haleloke, and Simeon and Andy Bright.  (Ankeny)  In addition, Al Jolson and Arthur Godfrey were among the many guests featured on the program.

After Edwards left the program, Danny Kaleikini, a well-known Hawaiʻi entertainer and singer, was the announcer and a performer for the program.  (US District Court Records)  The program ended August 16, 1975.

Late in his career, Edwards made a successful run at politics, serving for more than 14-years in Hawaiʻi’s territorial legislature and then the state legislature.

Spending his last few months in a Honolulu assisted-living facility, he died October 5, 1977, after suffering a heart attack.

On October 3, 1992 there was a temporary return of Hawaiʻi Calls, taped at the Hilton Hawaiian Village's beachside Tropics Showroom, then transmitted via satellite to affiliates.  It ran for about a year, but it failed to attract enough financial support to continue.

A one-night “Hawaiʻi Calls” show that combined live performances and archival audio and video material was presented at the Hawaiʻi Theatre on November 14, 2008. (Chicago Tribune)

The image shows Hawaiʻi Calls from the Moana.  In addition, I have included other related images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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